From infancy to twilight years, the air that we breathe and surfaces that we touch inside buildings have a substantial impact on our lifetime exposure to air pollution, including pollution of outdoor origin. As such, there is value in studying and understanding the mechanistic behavior of processes that affect the sources and fate of air pollutants indoors, with the goal of manipulating these processes to improve indoor air quality.
An important feature of indoor atmospheres is the relatively large ratio of surface area to volume of air, particularly in comparison to the same ratio for the outdoor atmosphere. From building materials to architectural coatings, flooring to furniture, and HVAC system components to human occupants, indoor surfaces vary considerably from one another and within and between buildings. These surfaces are sources of air pollutants and reservoirs onto and into which pollutants adsorb, absorb and persist. They contain reaction sites that permanently remove pollutants while forming others. They also allow for direct contaminant transfer following physical contact. Importantly, indoor materials and their surfaces are dynamic, with changes over time scales of minutes to decades that can dramatically influence their interactions with pollutants in indoor air.
This presentation will include a discussion of the importance of indoor air quality, including the broader impacts associated with its improvement and the intellectual merit of its continued study. The importance of indoor materials and their impacts on indoor air quality will be explored using several examples from past and ongoing research that reflect different interfacial phenomena and influencing factors. The potential for smart use of materials for improvement of indoor air quality will also be discussed as an area rich for future research.
There are materials around you that are affecting the amount and nature of pollutants that you are inhaling as you read this abstract.